On Saturday, the temperature climbed to roughly 50-degrees and the sky was mostly sunny, so I took a 35-mile jaunt around some nearby country roads.
On Sunday, it was a bit cooler, with temperatures topping out at around 45-degrees, but there was tons of warm sunshine. So I took part in my first group ride with my local cycling club. This particular ride covers 40 miles on beautiful, quiet, old country roads, and has a food stop at the half-way point. A bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich (homemade, not McDonalds) and coffee never tasted so good. This ride has been going on every Sunday for over 20 years. The current ride leader has led the ride since 1992. On this particular Sunday, there were only two other riders, both out on this ride for the first time this year. I’m told that there can be as many as two dozen riders during the summer months.
The bike path was still a wintry mess, so I had drive to and from the starting point. Once the snow and ice has melted away, I’ll be able to add another twenty miles to the trip by riding my bicycle there and home again. This was my first group ride, and I had an absolutely wonderful time. Here are just a few of the things I learned:
- You can plan a route and estimate the time all you like, but at the end of the day, anything can happen. The point really, really, really is the journey, not the destination.
- Everything is better with company, even changing flat tires. One guy arrived at the starting point with a flat, and I was thrilled to do my part as the new guy by giving him my spare tube since the one he had with him had the wrong valve type. The other guy got a flat while we were riding, and then had to change it twice because the tube pinched the first time around. When all was said and done, we were an hour late getting to breakfast, but we sure had a good time talking bikes as we sat there in some stranger’s driveway pumping up tires.
- I used to love participating in group rides on my motorcycle. But on those occasions, you rode together as a group, and then talked about it once you arrived at your destination. A group ride on a bicycle is an entirely different, and far more enjoyable, thing. You can actually enjoy pleasant conversation all along the way.
After breakfast, we rode into town and stopped at a local bike shop (to replenish everyone’s supply of spare tubes!), which turned out to be one of the coolest shops I’ve ever been in.
My only regret, I didn’t take any pictures. I have to be better about taking pictures along the way on my rides. I don’t know why I’m so bad about that. I carried a camera with me both days and snapped nary a shot.
By the way, with all the winter slop still lingering on the roadways and bike paths, I’m getting a lot faster at cleaning my bike!